Blog Category: Competition

Stop worrying about your competitors. Start worrying about customers’ alternatives.

186-Worried-Businessman

These may be the same… or not. If you make welding machines, your customers’ alternatives may be mechanical fasteners or epoxy adhesive. When you have a choice between supplier-centric or customer-centric thinking, always choose the latter. Exploring customers’ alternatives passes this customer-centricity test.

More in article, Is Your Innovation Supplier-Centric… or Customer-Centric?

Closing the “Customer Insight Gap” gives B2B suppliers a competitive edge. Not so much for B2C.

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B2C employees (e.g. Apple engineers) are consumers themselves, so they have high typical customer insight… but low potential insight, since consumers can’t easily predict what will entertain them. The gap between typical and potential insight when serving knowledgeable B2B customers is much larger. This is your competitive edge if you close the gap before competitors.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave (page 13).

Ignore experts who want you to ignore your sales team during VOC interviews.

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Some voice-of-customer experts recommend you exclude your salesforce from interviews because “they can sell but not listen.” True sales professionals are actually great listeners: You just need to reward them for listening. Strengthen listening and learning by your entire team, and you’ll out-perform competitors who side-line their sales pros when gathering market insights.

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B (page 24).

The most overlooked innovation practice? Understanding customers’ alternatives.

145 3 Door Options

Sure, the most important practice is understanding customer needs. But most overlooked? Few suppliers ask customers 1) for the most important, unsatisfied outcomes, 2) what test methods measure these outcomes, and 3) how satisfied customers are by various test results. Without these questions, you cannot properly assess competing alternatives.

More in article, Four Steps Needed for New Product Differentiation (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Four Steps Needed for New Product Differentiation

Four Steps Needed for New Product Differentiation

While VOC is extremely important, the most overlooked practice in B2B product development today is competitive benchmarking. This should be done in the front-end of innovation using 4 steps: 1) Identify outcomes to benchmark, 2) Identify customers’ alternatives, 3) Identify test methods, and 4) Identify benchmark levels (how good is good enough?) ... Read More

Your goal should be to waste fewer innovation resources than competitors.

137 Wasted Resources

Well, isn’t that inspirational? Perhaps not… but remember you’re in a constant battle with competitors to innovate for customers. One of the best ways to tip the “efficiency” balance in your favor is to consistently learn when projects are unattractive… before competitors. Then decisively kill them so resources can be used for winning projects.

More in article, Are You Maximizing Your Profits?

Pursuing the right customer needs requires divergent and convergent thinking… in that order.

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For every job a customer does, there are dozens of potential outcomes… so diverge with customers to uncover far more than competitors. Then ask for 1-10 importance and satisfaction ratings so your R&D can converge on the important, unsatisfied outcomes… while competitors guess. I’d like to make this sound more complicated, but it’s not.

More in white paper, Timing is Everything (page 8).